‘Utilitarianism Is Unsatisfactory as a Theory of Ethics

Topics: Ethics, Utilitarianism, Morality Pages: 2 (581 words) Published: May 4, 2009
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory coined by an English philosopher who lived during the late 1700’s name Jeremy Bentham. Bentham believed in the principle that human beings should be motivated by pain and pleasure; he said “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure” this meant that every human being’s goal in life should be to pursue pleasure and avoid pain and that these should be defining factors of what is moral. Utilitarianism is strongly based on this principle which is more commonly known as the principle of utility. The principle of utility is that an action is moral if it produces the greatest possible pleasure for the greatest possible number in any given situation. To carry out the theory of Utilitarianism accurately, Bentham devised an equation to calculate the happiness of a moral decision called “Hedonic Calculus”. I personally disagree with the claim that ‘Utilitarianism is unsatisfactory as a theory of ethics” although Utilitarianism has some flaws, the benefits and advantages of using Utilitarianism in most situations outweighs the disadvantages it has.

Some critics say that Utilitarianism is unsatisfactory as a theory of ethics as it has many disadvantages. First of all, the Hedonic relies on knowledge of the consequences for an accurate calculation, however many consequences are hard to predict or may not be apparent till many years in the future. It is also difficult to quantify pleasure meaning it is hard to count pleasure into a practical number for use of comparison. Furthermore, some pleasures caused by situations can actually be morally wrong and likewise, some pains can be actually good for us. One of the most significant arguments against Utilitarianism is the problem of justice; although it produces the greatest good for the greatest number, the pleasure is not evenly distributed among the people affected, instead, a majority can benefit from the pleasure while others suffer....
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